Medication for psychosis

Antipsychotics are the most common drug prescribed for psychosis. While this kind of medication can make distressing symptoms less frequent, intense or troubling, it also comes with health risks. It’s important to work closely with a treatment team to find the right type and lowest effective dose for your body.

Antipsychotics change how dopamine, a neurotransmitter (chemical that helps brain cells communicate), is produced in the brain.

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Image credit: Sam Cat

It is thought with psychosis, the production of dopamine is affected, contributing to hallucinations, delusions and confused thinking. Antipsychotics act by limiting the effect of dopamine in certain pathways in the brain.

Antipsychotics usually have the worst side effects in the first two weeks as the body begins an adjustment period that can last up to two months. But medication shouldn’t make you feel “drugged up,” drowsy or shaky on an ongoing basis. If this happens, you may be on too high of a dose, too many types of medications at once, or the wrong type for your body and should address it with your doctor.

Medication doesn’t have to be forever. It totally depends on each individual – such as how persistent symptoms are and the extent to which symptoms get in the way of day-to-day functioning. Whether short or long-term, a treatment team can support you in finding ways of integrating a low dose medicine regimen into your life, just like millions of people do every day for diabetes or high blood pressure.

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